Australia and Thales to deploy world’s largest air traffic control system covering 11% of the globe

Australia occupies a unique global position in the air traffic management (ATM) domain. The country’s Air Navigation Service Provider, Airservices Australia, manages the largest airspace in the world, totaling over 11% of the globe. Their ambition is to ensure the seamless integration of all civil and military air traffic over an area totaling 53 million square kilometers, approximately equal to the combined surface of North America, Central America, South America and China.  

Key Points

  • Australia announces they will partner with Thales on the OneSKY programme to modernise and integrate the Australian airspace.
  • The programme will deploy Thales’s four key digital technologies: connectivity, big data, AI and cybersecurity, to manage 11% of the world’s airspace an area totaling 53 million square kilometers.
  • OneSKY is designed to provide quantifiable reductions in travel times, delays and achieve CO2 emission reductions and fuel burn reductions whilst maintaining Australian air sovereignty, thus protecting its citizens, delivering clear economic, environmental and security.

Airservices Australia and the Australian Defence Force have chosen to rely on Thales to achieve this ambition by signing an AUS $1.2bn (€777m) contract for the delivery and deployment of the OneSKY programme. OneSKY is the world’s most advanced civil military airspace integration project and calls for the modernization of the Australian and associated oceanic airspace.

OneSKY’s objective is to bring benefits for passengers, airlines and the economy whilst maintaining Australian air sovereignty and safety to citizens, and is a critical part of the national infrastructure necessary to underpin the future economic prosperity of Australia.

“All of our customers have big ambitions, it’s why they come to us. Australia’s OneSKY programme is the world’s largest civil, military airspace integration project and is particularly ambitious in its sheer scope and complexity, covering 11% of the globe. We will be using our experience in ATM systems with our key digital technologies of, connectivity, Big Data, AI, and cybersecurity to foster the success of this programme.  Airservices Australia, the Air Force and the Australian Government have a true vision of the future of aerospace.”
Patrice Caine, President and CEO, Thales Group

The ambition of this programme is to enable Australia to safely manage and benefit from the rapid increase in air travel over the next 20 years at a time when airspace management is becoming significantly more complex. OneSKY will leverage Thales’s proven track record in Air Traffic Management systems, dual civil/military interoperability and use the latest digital technologies in the fields of connectivity, big data and AI to improve flight co-ordination, safely increase the use of airspace, optimise air traffic flow and improve the way planes approach the runway. Drawing on its cybersecurity expertise, Thales will ensure the integrity of the connectivity that will drive this interoperability.

For passengers the programme will reduce travel times and delays. For airlines, OneSKY seeks to maintain safety levels at increased volumes to enable them to increase their routes, whilst reducing fuel burn and CO2 emissions. The Australian Air Force will benefit from safer co-ordination with civilian air movements, thus helping them accomplish their mission of protecting Australia and its citizens more efficiently.

The development and delivery of OneSKY will support over 500 highly skilled, high-tech jobs, of which 450 are in Melbourne as well as a further 50 jobs in similar disciplines in France. To this approximately 200 more jobs will be supported across the entire supply chain in Australia It builds on the long term investment by Thales and comprehensive technology transfer that has brought world-leading R&D in ATM systems to Melbourne.

About Thales
The people we all rely on to make the world go round – they rely on Thales. Our customers come to us with big ambitions: to make life better, to keep us safer.

Combining a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, our architects design and deliver extraordinary high technology solutions. Solutions that make tomorrow possible, today.  From the bottom of the oceans to the depth of space and cyberspace, we help our customers think smarter and act faster - mastering ever greater complexity and every decisive moment along the way.

With 64,000 employees in 56 countries, Thales reported sales of €14.9 billion in 2016.